Firstly, a big thank you to Elly for single-handedly maintaining the blog over the past weeks!
We’re gradually settling in at home, Mr Cath has returned to work, and it’s time to get back in the blog saddle. Thanks readers for bearing with me… Having a baby has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most amazing. This mix of emotions combined with sleep deprivation has been interesting!
There is a lot I want to write about – for example, my labour story and the ups and downs of our first week at home. I also want to share some coping tips of my own, describe what was most and least useful in my hospital bag, and conclude the tale of my labour playlist.
In order to re-enter the world of Having Kittens I have had to get to grips with typing with one finger on my first ever smartphone (I know to other people it’s just called a “phone” these days, but to me the thing is frighteningly intelligent). To enable said typing I’ve learned I don’t need to cling on with both hands while breastfeeding, and indeed he won’t unlatch if I stop watching his intent little face. And now my crescent-shaped breastfeeding pillow has arrived (yes, I said I didn’t need one, but I got desperate) I have even been embarking on hands-free feeding.
Speaking of Him, that brings me to the main point of it all! Yes, I eventually had my kitten and provided a long-awaited playmate for Elphie.
Having a baby is an expensive business, you want to get the best for your baby but the best tends to be expensive.
Baby fashion is the worst. Like the catwalk models of Milan, Elphie requires an entirely new wardrobe every three months: her newborn wardrobe, her 0-3 month one, 3-6 months and so on. You might not bother with the newborn wardrobe as the internets say they grow out of it too quickly, but then Elphie was premmie so swamped in the 0-3 month baby grows so we had to order in more newborn baby grows, at which point the UK put on an uncharacteristic heatwave so she was just in a nappy and didn’t need any clothes and of course by the time the heat has died down, she’d grown out of exciting new outfits. Sad times.
Beyond learning from my cautionary tale, to avoid bankruptcy, these are my top tips for bargainous baby clothes:
By far and away my favourite source of baby clothes was FARA Kids, a charity shop dedicated to kids stuff with mainly clothes but also buggies, slings, moses baskets, bedding, toys and even maternity wear. All the stores I have been to have a chest of drawers somewhere with drawers of vests and baby grows for £1 each often from good brands and sometimes barely worn (presumably having suffered the same fate as some of our newborn clothes). I also purchased a moses basket stand and I know Cath bought a pretty baby sleeping bag from there. And it all goes to benefit orphaned and abandoned Romanian children so a bargain that also does good in the world – easing any guilt that may be felt about buying more hats than you could possibly need (realistically you will not need more than two, so the eight Elphie owns are probably overkill – some of them should probably return to the charity shop whence they came!).
GCSE double science has a lot to answer for. It told me that if I found a blue eyed man and if we loved each other very very much and had a baby that with my blue eyes, two recessive genes would make a recessive gene and our babies would have blue eyes. Visiting Fred’s sisters as part of the grand baby parade, his sisters’ bet was on Elphie’s eyes turning brown from their current dark blue / slate colour – leading me to wonder, could they be right? Can two blue eyed parents produce a brown eyed kid? Had GCSE double science been fooling me all along?
I needed to get an answer on this before Fred started questioning his parentage and looking strangely at the brown-eyed postman. Although in reality I think it should be the other way round – I can see definite signs of Fred’s features in her, she has his legs and feet (just the features a daughter wants from her father) and the dark colouring would seem to come from his side of the family, but where the signs of me are in the genetic mix are less clear. If she hadn’t done a stretch in my womb and come out of my ying yang, I would be the one questioning the parentage!
As Elphie becomes a bit more obviously sentient, or at least is awake for more hours of the day, there is a greater need to entertain her for the few minutes of this wakeful time when she can be persuaded that eating is not the ultimate form of entertainment. Grandmama and Jocelyn have been busting some nursery rhymes to plug this gap, so much so normal, but the more exciting thing and more fun for Elphie is that some of these have actions for babies!
Not the most complicated of interpretations of this nursery rhyme classic – basically you bounce the baby up and down in your lap and on the “fall” line, you tilt the baby to the side.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
You can also add an extra line at the end (“but I can!” giving the baby and big hug), if you feel your baby is traumatised by this dark and disturbing tale of a giant egg man (who was really a cannon).
I was going to post about something entirely different today when I came across the news that a Kidzania is opening in Westfield London in late 2014 / early 2015. This is hardly the usual fodder for this blog, dealing with a rather older age range, but was such an interesting yet bizarre concept that I felt I had to share…
Kidzania originated in Mexico City and is an alternative to the roller-coasters of traditional theme parks, instead taking roleplay to the max. Children aged 4-14 are given a passport and some KidZos currency and “flown” to Kidzania where they can run riot watching shows or buying a meal until they run out of cash, at which point they have to get a job. Large companies from the outside world (in other countries these have included companies like Domino’s Pizza, HSBC, American Airlines, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, DHL and Sony) are brand partners who run workplaces where an adult trains the kids in how to do something and then they produce it for the world (well the Kidzania world anyway). Kids can try out a load of professions from TV presenter to car manufacturer to checkout assistant to archaeologist to fire fighter to doctor etc.
It all sounds pretty bizarre!
Parents leave their children to roam the world independently, reassured that they cannot leave Kidzania without their knowledge as all kids are electronically tagged (presumably giving them the experience of prison offenders released into the community). Parents are then free to shop in the mall or they can attend the Kidzania shows their kids are in it seems.
I am not sure if this is a super cool idea or a Truman Showesque nightmare. When I was a kid, I spent many an hour pretending to be a secretary (there was no limit to my ambition back then) so maybe this would have been fun.
Now we are out and about, we have been experimenting with our transportation options and whether to buggy or sling and the various merits and demerits of each combination when venturing further afield.
Our first adventures were to a retail park. There is something soothing about the mass consumerism of strip malls in a retail park. The easiest transportation option by far is the car – you are nicely self-contained with as much clobber as you desire and are free from the public distain for crying babies. And, not that I have done it, but you could quite easily park up and breastfeed. Plus there is often parent & child parking near the store. Bliss.
I pottered around the shops with Elphie asleep in her sling, but think this would have been equally easy with a buggy, and with my car at hand I could dispense with shopping as I went so didn’t have to cart too much around.
Having a baby is a curious form of torture. You go into labour which can last hours or days and you experience childbirth which, depending on your pain relief choices, is likely to be the most painful experience of your life. Then, rather than having a rest from this ordeal, you are flung into a cycle which in theory only allows you to sleep for two hours at a time – assuming you are supposed to feed the baby every three hours counted from the beginning of the last feed and that the feeding plus faffing with nappies etc. takes an hour, leaves you just two hours to recuperate. How anyone manages it is a miracle.
I was relatively lucky going into it from a short labour and being used to some sleep deprivation (my ability to go to bed before 2am being almost non-existent even when having to get up by 8am to go to work), but it was still a shock.
So this is my guide for how to cope in the first few weeks.
Picture credit: The Telegraph
I will stop going on about the royal birth some time soon, but not before I gloat about my amazing taste and how I hope you all took my advice from this post and bought the fabulous Aden & Anais Jungle Jam swaddle muslins because now Elphie’s new mate Prince No Name (see – other parents find it hard to name their child!) has them everyone will want them (where I got them from is out of stock and John Lewis only have 7 left as of this minute!).
Picture credit: Extra TV
Although the choice of the birds is controversial, quite clearly the giraffes would have been a superior choice (and Uma agrees).
For those who wondered where Monday’s post was, do not panic there was a post – I just managed to back to the future it and post it as if posted on Saturday, so it was there but very slightly hidden by the mists of time. So here it is, back in its rightful place – apologies for those psychologically scarred by the seeming absence of a post!
When Elphie made it back to her birth weight, I decided the time had come to breastfeed properly and move away from being a bizarrely-shaped bottle accessed via the nipple shields to mother-baby direct breastfeeding action.
So I went along to the breastfeeding drop-in session at the health centre. This was a regular weekly session run by a midwife / lactation consultant and like the Hotel California it seemed it was so good that once you’d gone once you would never leave due to the camaraderie and moral support provided by a group of mums getting together once a week and breastfeeding while quietly and informally sharing their experiences. Very nice it was too and plaudits to the NHS for providing such a thing.
When my turn came for attention from the midwife, I explained my problem and she examined Elphie and said that my problem was probably not flat nipples but more that Elphie was tongue tied. This surprised me as at least one of the midwives or health visitor who had come to our flat had checked for tongue tie and declared her untied. But it seems Elphie has the posterior type and that’s harder to spot.